Failure Is an Option (And Can Help, Too)

Tight economic circumstances make businesses cautious, but one company is turning mistakes into teaching moments.


Michael Alter, president of SurePayroll, doesn’t avoid mistakes, he fosters them. This week, in an article for Inc., the leader of the online payroll services company chronicles how he embraces missteps.

Alter leads by example and publicly admits his mistakes, hoping to engender a similar response in his employees. And through a “Best New Mistakes” competition, he gets employees to share their errors.

So what can credit unions learn from Alter? When they are honest, mistakes are educational and can improve a company.

Take that thinking and apply it toward your operations and workplace culture. To help employees learn from their errors, try setting up a weekly meeting. For just 15 or 20 minutes on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning, discuss failures, risks, and lessons learned. If an employee flubs up, you want them to be able to learn and move forward. This can help them in that professional development.

Alter makes many useful points in the Inc. piece. The bottom line is if employees aren’t comfortable at your credit union, then their feelings will permeate their performance and affect member experience.

So help your employees learn from their mistakes. And in turn, they can help you present a forward-thinking credit union to the members you serve.  


Sept. 10, 2010



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